The emergence of home automation and smart home products has increased greatly recently. I recently became very interested in these subjects and i actually came across http://sabinessmarthome.com, the site is great and i definitely recommend it
Why not use X10?
From what I understand, you would need place all your appliances close to your computer or have lots of wires around your house. But why not use X10 or and a program like heyu? Plus, lights are a lot funner to dim than to switch on and off.
An open, cross-platform journaling program.
A scientific plotting package.